Spent twelve dollars to renew...

 The... I cannot at the moment think of the correct term; my 'ownership' of the web address 'cinerecilicio.com'. For another year. Since tomorrow is Laetare, am putting half and half into my tea and coffee today. It is a brilliant morning although I missed Dawn, or most of her rising, preoccupied with Prime. Tea-imbibing now.

The Mass today is Verba mea auribus percipe (Introibo) but it's not being streamed from Saint-Eugène. Evidently there are settings for the Introit and other parts of the Mass; the first video is a recording of Orlandus Lassus's setting (no idea if it was intended at all for the Liturgy) and the second is Dr Marek Klein's version of the Introit. His Graduale Project is great and wonderful et cetera; he uses the Graduale triplex, attending specially to the neumes in red, those of la famille sangallienne. I would reverse the position but, eh, am too lazy to fuss with it.

The Gospel today is the account by the Apostle and Evangelist Saint John of the mulier in adulterio deprehensa, preceded by the lesson from the Prophet Daniel which recounts the history of the deliverance of the just woman Susanna, unjustly accused of adultery, by her prayers and Daniel's testimony. Under which tree, he asked the one false accuser: sub schino, a hawthorn. Under which tree, he asked the other: sub prino, a holmoak. In those days people did indeed know their trees one from the other. 

Saint Vitalis [where is the collecta], which is also known from the name of its foundress as the titulus Vestinae, was dedicated by Innocent I (412-17) to the martyrs Vitalis, Gervase, and Protase. The Basilica of St Susanna is the ancient titulus Gaii, called also after the saints Gabinius and Susanna, the brother and the niece of the Pontiff who performed the dedication. It rises on the ruins of an ancient Roman building-- ad duas domos, mentioned in the Bernese martyrology-- and its titular clergy appear in the Roman Council of the year 497, under Pope Symmachus (498-514). Leo III (795-816) restored it from the foundations, and placed in the church the body of St Felicitas, the mother of the seven martyred brothers. In the late Middle Ages, the second scrutiny of the candidates for baptism took place on this day, and the Ordines Romani therefore prescribe appropriate chants and lessons, which differ from those given in the Missal. The Introit is from Psalm V: 'Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry: hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God'. This appeal goes on increasing in power and in fervour. It is the cry of an oppressed soul seeking escape from its burden of anguish in prayer; lonely and forsaken, it knocks insistently at the door of heaven; it cries out, it groans, it clamours for the help of Jehovah. Who then is this soul, if not He of whom the Gospel says that in the Garden of Gethsemani, factus in agonia, prolixius orabat? 

The Collect is one of the type which is so common in the Gregorian Sacramentary: 'Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that they who in afflicting their flesh abstain from food, may, by following justice, fast from sin'. This expresses the negative side of the Lenten abstinence, that is, corporal fasting and the mortification of our senses; the positive side is the practice of the virtues. 

The story of Susanna described in the Book of Daniel (XIII 1-62) was well known to the early Christians, for it was often represented in the cubicula of the catacombs. The figure of Susanna was typical of the Church, which was persecuted and calumniated by the Jews, in the first place, and then by pagans and heretics. When every human hope of safety fails, then is the moment chosen by God to show His power. Susanna prays and is saved. Her story teaches us to fear nothing so much as sin and to put all our trust in God. The choice of this passage from the Old Testament was evidently suggested by the name of the martyr to whom the basilica is dedicated [or, perhaps, on account of the Gospel?]. The Gradual of today, taken from Psalm XXII, is full of sweetness and is the aspiration of a fervent soul to God: 'If I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, O Lord. Thy rod and thy staff they have comforted me'. 

Then follows the scene from the Gospel, where the woman taken in adultery is brought before Christ. It is reminiscent of the preceding lesson, but if the accusation of sin is the same in both cases, the conditions of the accused are very different. God protects the innocence of Susanna and saves her; in the Gospel story, by an act of divine wisdom and compassion, he abashes the accusers of the adulteress, whom he converts and pardons. Human justice is inflexible towards certain sins for which the world has no pity. How much more gentle is the grace of the Holy Ghost, which takes away the stain of sin, regenerates the soul, restores it to its former dignity, and changes a wretched sinner into a Mary Magdalen, a Pelagia, or a Margaret of Cortona. Why did Christ say to the adulteress in the Gospel: 'Neither will I condemn thee'? Does His law, then, not condemn sins of impurity? It does condemn them, and, as long as the sinner cherishes an affection for sin, God will not receive him, but when he repents and detests his wrongdoing [or, wrong-doing], his contrition brings him back to God, who no longer condemns him but grants him pardon and reconciliation. How great a consolation it is to the fallen ones, to those who can never hope to regain the esteem of their fellowmen, to hear the voice of God within them saying: 'Neither will I condemn thee'. 

The Offertory is taken from Psalm CXVIII: 'Direct my steps according to thy word: that no iniquity may have dominion over me, O Lord'. The Secret is the same as that of the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany. The Communion is from the Gospel of the day. It expresses the compassion of Jesus and, at the same time, the condition requisite for forgiveness and reconciliation with God: 'Woman, hath no man condemned thee? No man, Lord. Neither will I condemn thee; go, and now sin no more'. The resolve to abandon sin is essential in the penitent, for without it even sacramental confession would but be like that made by Judas in the Sanhedrim, when, throwing down before them the money he had received as the price of his treachery towards his divine Master, he exclaimed: 'Peccavi, tradens sanguinem justurn'. The confession was complete, but Scripture adds that going out he hanged himself from a tree. Judas, therefore, was wanting in the purpose of amendment, he was wanting in hope and wanting in love. 

In the Post-Communion we implore God that the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ may strengthen us in the Communion of the mystical body of the Church with its Head, causing us to participate more intensely in His life and in His spirit. In the Oratio super populum we pray that God would extend towards us the right hand of his heavenly aid, and would grant us the grace of seeking him with all our heart. To seek God-- what a noble aim! We seek God when we desire him alone, and the road by which we must seek him is the way of the divine commandments and the evangelical counsels of perfection. The story of Susanna, so familiar to the early Church, and so oftenr reproduced in the paintings of the catacombs, should fill our souls with loving confidence. Susanna prefers to fall a victim to the vengeance of her accusers rather than sin against God. She places all her trust in the Lord, and her prayer becomes her salvation. 

The mailman, among the detritus, left the March issue of The New Criterion and I just enjoyed reading Anthony Daniels on Billy Bunter ('the fat Owl'), the protagonist of countless stories by Frank Richards, who died in 1961. I've seen Bunter's character referred to but otherwise knew nothing about his books. George Orwell disapproved, evidently, but Richards fairly effortlessly answered him, in Daniels's telling. I see on the Internet that there was a television serial made in the 1950s; were it broadcast today, it would be 'cancelled' within some eight hours of its premiere and I don't mean 'cancelled because it attracted too few viewers'. 

And also the sample issue of the new monthly magazine Benedictus i.e. Magnificat for those who follow the Traditional Rite. The fact is that, were I an aficionado of the Pauline Rite I wouldn't take Magnificat (because I'd have a missal, and books, and PrayTell, and the National Catholic Reporter and America's enlightened mages); as it is, I am happy to contribute five dollars a month toward the success of Benedictus but I'm scarcely an item in its target audience. 

It is also the feast of Saint Leander (6th century), of Saint Euphrasia (4th century), and of Saint Françoise (18th century).

V. Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum. R. Deo grátias.